How to Clean a Yoga Mat

Child’s pose is one of those poses that every time it’s entered into acts as a reminder that it’s okay to rest and accept the peace that comes from resting. At the same time, there’s also a decent likelihood that the close proximty of nose to mat in child’s pose acts as a reminder that it’s NOT okay to have a stinky yoga mat. There’s a big difference between a “sticky” mat and a “stinky” mat. The former is to be sought after, the latter is to be shunned. So, the big question is when was the last time you gave your “stinky” mat a bath. If you’re like me, it should have been done a long time ago. Perhaps you have a preferred method for cleaning your mat. I don’t. In fact, in the six years I’ve practiced yoga, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never cleaned it once. That’s just gross!

Well, after a few times in child’s pose last night, I decided I’d better get serious about cleaning my mat; otherwise, I might end up with a nasty foot fungus on my forehead. With that thought in mind, I went searching for a cure. Here’s what a little research turned up on different ways to keep a mat in tip-top shape.

Yoga Journal had the following to say on the subject:

If your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth rag to apply a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. Rub the soiled areas. Wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel. Hang to air dry.

If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Thoroughly hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. After squeezing out the excess water, lay the mat on a dry towel and roll the mat and towel together. Stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then unroll and hang to air dry.

A Bikram site recommended a different approach:

Just put it by itself into the washing machine, add a very small amount of a light detergent such as Woolite and run it through a gentle cycle. Then just hang it to dry it usually dries overnight but in the humid summer weather it might take a little longer. I recommend washing your mat once every couple of months, depending on how often you attend class. It’s also a good idea to hang your mat in between classes rather than leave it rolled up.

Here’s a few more words of wisdom from Yogamatters:

All of our sticky, standard, lightweight, travel and ecoYoga mats are machine washable: Use a little mild detergent and a cool wash cycle (no more than than 40 degrees). Don’t use the spin cycle. Allow lots of time to air dry (do not use a tumble drier or radiator) and avoid folding or using your mat until it is completely dry, as this may shorten its life. You can roll your mat up with a towel and squeeze excess water out to speed up the drying process. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe your mat clean. Do not wash your mat unnecessarily.

Cotton mats can also be machine washed – full details supplied with each mat.

Here’s one last link if you are still looking for ideas. I think I’m going to opt for the sponge-down solution rather than complete submersion. Hopefully my next child’s pose is a little less distracting than the last one.

Leave a comment if you have any other good ideas for mat cleanliness!

Manduka Yoga Gear


  1. Some Yoga sites have mat-sanitizing solution… Once in a while I just spray a very fine mist of cleaner with bleach over the mat and then wipe it off with a damp steaming hot terry cloth towel. Putting the mat in the washer works well… but it takes a very long time to dry.

  2. Unfortunately, I have used too much detergent and now have a slippery mat. I guess I will just have to keep rinsing it but if you have other suggestions I could use them. Thanks

    1. You might want to try to wash it in water, mixed with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Vinegar removes grease (excellent in the kitchen too) and is what I use for my sticky mat, if the stickiness has worn a bit off. Could be it could help on your “slippery” mat 🙂

  3. I got a pure earth yoga mat from zenza athletics and it totally cracked around the edges – I sent them an e-mail and will see if i get a response but i had no idea these mats could be totally defective.
    I hope they replace it. i didn’t think “eco” could mean it dicomposes in a short period of time.

  4. I bought a mat spray, which seems to work pretty well. I find having two mats to be of great help. When one is drying, I just use the other one.

  5. I’ve used the gentle cycle and a very mild detergent on all my mats and never had a problem. I hang them to dry for at least 24 hours and they have given me no problems.

    Now if my parrot would stop crawling down off my chest during savasana, to pull out pieces of my mat because its fun…….

  6. I recently got ringworm, which is a fungus that grows in sweaty places. namely yoga mats and gyms.
    The best thing to kill it is tea tree oil. That mixed with anything should do the trick.
    At the studio I volunteer at, I we use a mix of that, eucalyptus oil and water in a spray bottle after every use. Additionally once a week the mats get sprayed with a more industrial cleaner to make sure every germ is killed.

    On a plus, if you lightly spray your mat with the essential oils after every session, your mat always smells great!

  7. After reading this post I put my manduka mat in my washing machine on the gentle cycle which shredded it.

    I will be using the bath tub and mat sprays from now on when my new mat needs cleaned!

    1. That’s terrible! I’ll update the post to warn about washing machine recommendations. I’m pretty sure Manduka recommends spraying or cleaning in the tub. What kind of Manduka mat was it?

      1. It was the Black Pro. I ordered a new one in the limited edition color so I’m pretty excited about that!

        1. From the Manduka website: “To Clean: We recommend using Manduka Mat Renew or any non-solvent household cleaner and a damp cloth or sponge. Hang to dry in the sunshine. DO NOT put your mat in the washing machine- it may break the machine and ruin your mat!”

  8. On a daily basis, try giving your yoga mat a quick wipe down with a towel after each use. You can also spray a solution of water and tea tree oil on the yoga mat after use, but remember to wipe it down and hang it to dry. Tea tree oil is naturally antiseptic and antifungal, so it may help keep the yoga mat clean without the use of harsh detergents and chemicals.

  9. This is one of my favorite topics because I think everybody does it differently! I like to take my mat in the shower and wrestle/rub it down with lavender soap. I’m sure that is the most complicated way to do it… but its fun 🙂

  10. I’m a Bikram yogi and I can’t not wash my mat regularly. It may seem excessive compared to once every couple of months, but I wash mine once every week or two. Not because I’m a germpahobe of sorts I swear! I fill my tub to about 1/4 and let my mat soak in a combo of mild soap and a few drops of tea tree oil (natural deodorizer too!). Hang it overnight to dry. When you wake up the next morning, it’s ready!

    Everyone sweats in Bikram. The sweaty towels sits on top of the mat, their juices being soaked up. Plus, you lay your mat down on the sweaty floor, so at least one side of it has other people’s sweat. Then you roll it up, so both sides rub up against each other. Gahhhhh, that’s just way too much sweat/bodily toxins in one day, let alone one month or one year!

    sorry for the long comment and thx for the post 🙂

    1. Lala,
      You are so observant! People think that because they have their own mat that they are only in contact with their own body detritus. They conveniently overlook the fact that they just rolled that mat out on a floor used by hundreds of others that have left all kinds of unmentionables behind. And then, as you have keenly observed, they roll it up ensuring that both sides are contaminated.

      It is exactly for these reasons that the Matsana yoga mat sanitizing machine was invented.
      Matsana is an industrial strength, studio level solution to mat cleanliness. Using concentrated germicidal UV-C light, Matsana destroys 99.9% of most bacteria and viruses on BOTH sides of a mat in 20 seconds, every time. The Matsana process is dry, hypo-allergenic, and leaves no chemical or oil residue on a mat. Matsana sanitizes mats 6-10 times faster than manual cleaning, saving time, hassle and money (no spray to buy), and its efficacy has been clinically verified by an independent laboratory. And no, it does not harm your mat. Most studios charge $1. We’ re at

  11. “I decided I’d better get serious about cleaning my mat; otherwise, I might end up with a nasty foot fungus on my forehead.”

    That was too funny to me! 😛

    My mat has been little used but now that the boyfriend and I have EA Sports II for the Wii, it gets used a lot more. That program makes you HURT and SWEAT. It’s definitely about time I cleaned the mat. Thanks for the tips (from the blogger and the folks who commented above)!

  12. My favorite mat is a light green color (my husband got it for me) but I have found its the worse color it shows all dirt and I cant get it off. I clean it weekly by spraying it down to kill anything I dont want living on it and then wipe it with a lightly soapy cloth then hang it to dry, but I cant get the stains off. Ive tried the bath tub trick, many different soaps, magic eraser, and wipes, it smells nice but looks dirty. I feel I have tried everything shot of putting it in the washer and using bleach (Im allergic.) Any suggestions? Dishwasher maybe?

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  14. I mix up my own solution of water, vinegar and tea tree oil in a spray bottle, spray and wipe down regularly.

    1. Tell your studio to move out of the Stone Age re mat cleaning and embrace the new Squeaky Clean Studio ethos with a mat sanitizing machine. Do you take your own towel to the gym and then proceed to wipe the gym floor with it before your shower? Because that’s what your doing when you roll out your mat on a studio floor and then roll it up thinking “Gee, I’m so clean and protected by having my own mat”. The next time you use it, guess what’s been growing in that dark, moist, rolled up fast-food joint for bacteria. If you want a clean space (your mat) to practice on, your mat needs to be sanitized on BOTH sides after it’s been in contact with the floor where 100’s of people before you have left their hair, dead skin, sweat and saliva for your mat to wallow in. Matsana takes just 20 seconds to sanitize both sides your mat to a lab proven standard of 99.9% microbe free.
      Get your studio hip to a time saving, reliable mat sanitizing method that benefits the studio and their clientele.

  15. Thank you everyone for sharing. I had not thought of what might get on my mats from the studio floor. i will now clean accordingly because I believe it was lending a mat to a classmate that gave me a mild case of fungus on my right hand. I am glad that I did not get it on my forehead!

  16. We use a really nice all-natural lemongrass essential oil and water mix at our studio. It smells amaaaazing, but the downside is sometimes the sweat-stains remain… dunno if that’s a problem with the mat or the cleaning solution.

  17. I have a orange and yellow mat from Hugger Mugger and I have used yoga spray and nothing. I have used mild cleanser and water with a towel and nothing. I am not putting it in the bathtub with a half teaspoon of Dr. Bronners Magic Soap. It is not clean. . . still. I can still see dirt spots that seem to have encased in the mat’s DNA or something. Help!

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